Archaia Polis Lato

by Sophia Schlesinger

You won't believe me, but I even knew a shepherd once,
I know it's too much, who was called Adonis

who once slipped a cherry lollipop
into my hand as though it were a baby bird.

The man who give me this he have filthy thoughts
about me and so I cannot have this but you can

have this please,
and then walked away whistling for whatever it was

that found its end in the upturned palm of my hand.
I imagine them standing there, mother and son, at Lato,

for the last time, my brother running on fawn-like legs through felled
labyrinth, an altar bearing only the blue breath of mold,

centuries the Minoans, and then the Dorians, left behind,
pushing the stones up the mountains, the temple built for a goddess

looking for a place to land. The eye of the sheep like the shape
of the sky above where the enemy ships come in, thunder of nimbus

and diminuendo of hind legs, the white stone washed red. I have little faith
in ceremony but have always believed the body; the last aggrieved fire in the groin

when the wheels leave the runway, the punctuation
of the opened artery, my shepherd, who lives out his exile

in an abandoned mountain village, shaking his ass in the route-66
themed bar carved into the cliffside, where spring water streams down

the precipice behind the bandstand—cry of Cretan lyra, wheezing askomantoura,
an ancient dance floor that has already outlived you & I, the two bodies touching

in the word ruin, the wind caught in it, the way it weathers the present
to memory. The valley below grows dark with rain,

an amphitheater in which I will even wear white
if that's what you like, if that's what you're into. Who was I

before the altar? What greater sacrifice

than simply passing through: the bags clatter in the trunk,
forehead smacks the window turning to get a last look at the stones

receding back into the earth as the taxi speeds toward a coastline
stretched flat as a pedestal, some last offering

to that same goddess they must have prayed to
when the smoke came marching up the mountain.

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